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Surakarta gears up for Imlek with Grebeg Sudiro parade

Ganug Nugroho Adi

The Jakarta Post

Surakarta, Central Java  /  Mon, February 4, 2019  /  05:36 pm
Surakarta gears up for Imlek with Grebeg Sudiro parade

Indonesia's national emblem, Garuda Pancasila, is held up in the crowd for the Grebeg Sudiro parade in Surakarta, Central Java, on Sunday. (JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi)

Thousands of people gathered in Chinatown near Pasar Gede Market in the Central Java city of Surakarta on Sunday for the Grebeg Sudiro cultural parade to ring in the Chinese New Year, which will start on Tuesday.

The 4-kilometer long parade began at 3 p.m. with various food offerings. Two cones of nian gao (Chinese New Year cake, known as kue keranjang in Indonesia), cones of fruits, vegetables and local delicacies, including bakpao (steamed bun), getuk (cassava-based snack coated with liquid palm sugar and grated coconut) and onde-onde (glutinous rice balls), were carried around Kampung Surodiprajan.

Widely acknowledged as the city’s Chinatown, Surodiprajan comprises Pasar Gede Market, the Tein Kok Sie Chinese temple and a number of villages, including Balong, Kepanjeng and Ketandan, where cultural assimilation has transpired for hundreds of years.

Performances at in the Kampung Sudiroprajan area attracted a respectable crowd despite some rain.  Performances at in the Kampung Sudiroprajan area attracted a respectable crowd despite some rain. (JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi)

Involving around 3,000 participants, the parade showcased a mix of Javanese-Chinese performances, from the reog ponorogo dance and gunung dance to the liong (dragon) and barongsai (lion) dance. Traditional acts were featured as well, including the lembu Sura dance, Joko Tingkir performance, kuda lumping (horse dance) and topeng ireng dance. Other participants were dressed as deities, jesters or monks.

Despite some rain, the parade attracted an impressive crowd as people flocked to the Pasar Gede area, the main venue of the event.

Read also: A mash of Chinese New Year, cultural diversity in Surakarta

'Liong' and 'Barongsai' performances'Liong' and 'Barongsai' performances (JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi)

The sharing of the offerings marked the peak of Grebeg Sudiro. People scrambled to get their portions of kue keranjang distributed from the second floor of Pasar Gede. Around 5 kilograms of kue keranjang was consumed during the event.

“I watch this parade every year and jostle with others to get kue keranjang,” said Rimati, 21, who studies at a state university in Surakarta. “Surakarta is the only city where Javanese people take part in the Imlek celebration.”

Surakarta Mayor FX Hadi “Rudy” Rudyatmo said harmony among ethnicities in Surakarta had existed for a long time. “Grebeg Sudiro has eliminated boundaries between Javanese-Chinese and other ethnicities. Surakarta is a diverse city, and Indonesia is built out of diversity,” said Rudy.

Around 3,000 people took part in the Grebeg Sudiro parade that started at 3 p.m.Around 3,000 people took part in the Grebeg Sudiro parade that started at 3 p.m. (JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi)

The city has another tradition that displays an amalgamation of Javanese and Chinese culture, the Buk Teko thanksgiving ceremony, held prior to Grebeg Sudiro.

The head of the Grebeg Sudiro 2019 organizing committee, Martono Hadi Pranoto, said the parade demonstrated tolerance and cultural diversity. “The acculturation is more than just socializing. It’s on the level of culture and other aspects of life,” said Martono. (wir/wng)